Introduction to Keigo Part 2: 尊敬語


おはようございます。It’s 8:15am here in Singapore.

Let’s do 尊敬語 (そんけいご) today.

If you have read my article on Giving and Receiving, you would understand how to read the below table.


In my table above, Level 2 refers to 目上の人(i.e superiors, seniors, teachers, etc).
Level 1 refers to people who are in the same social status (i.e friends, acquaintances, etc).

For example,

  1. わたし は ひるごはんを たべました. (I ate dinner)
  2. かちょう は ひるごはんを たべられました (Section chief ate dinner)

As the section chief is of a higher status, it would be impolite to use Level 1 verbs like 「たべます」。

To use 尊敬語 (そんけいご) properly, do also remember that the 3-step rule as mentioned in 日本人の知らない日本語 drama。


敬意: Level of Respect
Forming Level 2.1 尊敬語

Same as how you form 受身形 (うけみけい) / Passive Form
Group 1 verbs (五段動詞)

いいます ->いわ->いわれます (to say)
かきます->かか->かかれます (to write)
Group 2 verbs (一段動詞) -Note that some verbs cannot fit into this level (e.g います)
たべます->たべられます (to eat)
みます->みられます (to see)
Group 3 verbs (サ変/カ変)
します->なさいます (to do)
きます->こられます (to come)
Forming Level 2.2 尊敬語
お+連用形/ます-form + になります

(Only for Group 1 and Group 2 verbs)

Take note that some verbs cannot fit into this level (e.g みます->おになります X)

たべますー>おたべになります (to eat)
かきますー>おかきになります (to write)
Forming Level 2.3 尊敬語

You have no choice but to remember this chart. What i would usually do is try to change what i say in daily life to remember the chart.

Example sentences (Level 2.3)
せんせい は いらっしゃいますか (Is sensei around?)
しゃちょう は 資料(しりょう)をごらん に なりました (The CEO read the materials)
Question: When do i know which level of 尊敬語 to use?

Answer: It depends on how high the status of a person is at that point of time. For example, it would be inappropriate to say this when both your 課長 (かちょう) and 社長 (しゃちょう) is around.
「課長、昼ごはんを めしあがりましたか。」

If your 社長 knows 敬語 very well, he might get angry with you. Thus, it is important to use the correct level of verb at the time.

Later on, i will post some exercises on 尊敬語 for practice.

Hope you enjoyed this article. I might put in a mp3 later on for explanation, so feel free to check back this article.


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